ART “4” “2”-DAY 23 February v.10.10
DEATH: 1931 REYNOLDS
Born on 23 February 1831: Hendrik Willem
Mesdag, Dutch painter and collector specialized in maritime
Scenes, who died on 10 July 1915.
— Mesdag decided to become an artist in 1866, when already 35 years old. Before then he had worked in his father's banking business and had drawn in his leisure time. To further his artistic training he moved to Brussels, where he was taught by the Dutch painter Roelofs. The sea became Mesdag's primary subject. In 1869 he settled close to the coast in The Hague. The beach at Scheveningen was his favorite spot for painting, as it was for some other painters. He achieved international fame when he won a medal in 1870 at the Paris Salon.
His most spectacular work is Panorama in The Hague, a coastal view of some 120 m wide and 14 m high, on a circular wall. This enormous painting provides a lively view of the beach at Scheveningen in the 1880s. Dunes are in the foreground, so that the viewer has the impression of looking out over the beach from a sand hill. Mesdag started his gigantic project in 1881. He completed the painting in four months with the aid of his wife Sientje van Houten and George Hendrik Breitner. Mesdag's Panorama was an immediate success and it can still be seen in The Hague near Museum Mesdag. This museum, founded by Mesdag himself (next to his house), contains primarily work by artists of the Hague School and the Barbizon School.
— As a child and while he worked as a clerk in his father’s bank, he took lessons in drawing and painting, first from C. B. Buijs [1808–1872] and later from J. H. Egenberger [1822–1897], Director of the Academie Minerva in Groningen. It was not until 1866 that Mesdag made painting his profession. That summer he and his wife, Sientje van Houten [1834–1909], worked en plein air near Oosterbeek with the landscape painter J. W. Bilders [1811–1890]. From the autumn of 1866 to 1869 they lived in Brussels, where Mesdag was trained by Willem Roelofs, the first Dutch artist to pay regular visits to Barbizon, and where he came into contact with young Belgian Realist painters, such as Alfred Verwée, Louis Artan and Louis Dubois. In this period Mesdag learnt to render his impressions from nature accurately and directly.
Mesdag lived in The Hague and had a permanent hotel room in Scheveningen. This was where he sketched and painted the sea in constantly changing weather and in all seasons. Seascapes and beach scenes were a popular subject with Mesdag and the other painters of the Hague School. These painters were not so much concerned with the careful 'depiction' of boats or fisherfolk. Like the French Impressionists, their main concern was to reproduce a moment's atmosphere: the light, the mood on the beach on a sunny or overcast day, the sea in the morning light or at dusk. See for example Morning Ride on the Beach (1876, 45x70cm) by Anton Mauve.
— Mesdag was born in Groningen. His father, a merchant and banker, was an amateur painter who saw to it that his two sons were also educated in the art of painting. Upon leaving school, Mesdag was employed by his fathers company for some 16 years. During that period he was educated in the art of drawing, stimulated by his wife Sientje van Houten, whom he married in 1856. When her father died in 1864 and left a considerable inheritance, Mesdag could afford to retire from the firm and devote himself entirely to painting.
Mesdag moved to Brussels where he served an apprenticeship with Willem Roelofs the painter. In 1868 Mesdag and his brother Taco visited the German island of Norderney and got fascinated by the sea in such a way that a year later he decided to move to The Hague, where he could observe and paint the sea and the beach every day.
In 1870 he contributed two paintings for the Paris Salon and as a complete outsider he won the gold medal for his Les Brisants de la Mer du Nord. This was his breakthrough and with his commercial spirit he succeeded in establishing himself at home and abroad. In 1880 his reputation as a marine painter brought him the assignment from a Belgian company to paint a Panorama. After the bankruptcy of the Belgian company in 1886 he bought his own panorama, which he considered to be one of his major works of art. Mesdag took the responsibility for the financially unattractive exploitation and until his death he covered the yearly deficits out of his own means. He undertook considerable reconstruction projects and realized the green and red halls, exhibiting the works which earned him fame as a marine painter.
Meanwhile Mesdag had become a well respected man in the art world of The Hague. When he moved to The Hague he joined Pulchri Studio (art society) of which he was chairman from 1889 to 1897 and honorary president since. About 1900 he initiated the removal of the society to the building at Lange Voorhout and together with his wife he financed part of the reconstruction. In 1876 he co-founded the Hollandsche Teekenmaatschappij (Dutch drawing society), of which he was chairman until 1885.
Together with Sientje he had a house built at Laan van Meerdervoort, which also housed their collection of contemporary French and Dutch art. In 1903 he donated to the state the house and the collection, which are nowadays known as the Museum Mesdag.
In 1910, a year after his wife died, he founded a family company in order to secure the future of Panorama Mesdag. The 33 nephews, nieces and cousins of Mesdag and his wife were appointed as shareholders of the company and thereby jointly accepted the responsibility for the exploitation and preservation of Panorama Mesdag. Their descendants still carry this responsibility.
— Mesdag was one of the core members of the Hague School, a movement that manifested itself in the last quarter of the 19th century and was heavily influenced by the plein-air painters of the French Barbizon School.
Inspired by painters such as Willem Roelofs, Mesdag became familiar with painting in the open air, which was one of the most important innovations of that day. Industrial revolution played an important role in this: for the first time it was possible to produce paint in small tubes, which could be taken out into the fields. Before this invention the only way to produce paint was by a very complicated and time-consuming process that could only be done in the studio.
A visit to the island of Norderney in 1868 meant a radical change for his artistic career. Impressed by the many faces of the sea, he resolved to become a painter of seascapes. It was unmistakable that his strength and originality lay there. No one had seen the sea as he did. Mesdag´s brutally realistic depiction of the sea, done straight from nature, was a totally new phenomenon, which earned him a gold medal at the Paris Salon of 1870 for his large seascape Les brisants de la mer du nord. This unusual fact established his reputation almost immediately. Jean-François Millet and Felix Ziem, members of the salon committee, applauded the painting, followed by French critics such as J.K. Huysmans and Paul Leroi, who were impressed by Mesdag's contribution.
Compared to the highly finished and minutely detailed seascapes of the romantics, Mesdag's unbiased depiction of the sea, straight from nature, was a new phenomenon in Dutch painting. His vigorous brushwork, entirely appropriate to the subject, struck contemporary viewers. It expressed a call for truthfulness that was welcomed by many. His marines were so much in demand that he became one of the best selling artists of his days. Especially in the United States his work was very popular. Here his career, wealth and beautiful art collection were raved about in the newspapers.
Mesdag, who was born into a mercantile Groningen family, was destined to become a banker. After an inheritance had rendered him financially independent, he decided to devote himself entirely to his artistic ambitions. He turned to his cousin Lourens Alma Tadema for advice. Alma Tadema, living in Brussels at that time, arranged the landscapist Willem Roelofs to become his teacher. Under his guidance, Mesdag adopted a broad, distinctive style of painting. In Brussels, where he stayed for four years (1866-1869), Mesdag also grew familiar with the Barbizon School, sharing their fascination for painting en plein air.
During a stay on the island of Norderney in 1868, Mesdag resolved to become a painter of seascapes. The works he brought with him from Norderney were a true revelation. It was unmistakable that Mesdag's strength and originality lay there. No one had seen the sea as he did. A year later, Mesdag moved to The Hague, where he rented a room in the nearby fishing village Scheveningen. This enabled him to be as close as possible to his life-long source of inspiration: the sea.
After scoring his first success at the Paris salon in 1870, Mesdag's work gained wide recognition. His detailed marines were in great demand and he became one of the best selling artists of his day. He also played an active role in the Dutch art world as president of the Dutch Drawing Society and Pulchri Studio, famous gathering places for the artists of the Hague School.
— George Hitchcock was a student of Mesdag.
— Pinks in the Breakers (1885, 90x181cm; 489x1000pix, 240kb _ ZOOM to 783x1600pix, 208kb) _ Fishing boats are lying at anchor in the surf before Scheveningen. They are pinks or pinkies, flat-bottomed boats with no keel and a broad curved prow. They were used in the herring fishery. The boats would be dragged along the beach by horses. In the nineteenth century Scheveningen did not yet have a harbor. To the left is a pink on dry land, surrounded by fisherfolk, mainly women with baskets of fish. A strong breeze is blowing and the breakers are capped with white foam. Mesdag was skilled at catching the feeling of a rough day at sea.
Mesdag was a skilful painter of water, sky and light. From a distance it is as though the clouds are in motion and the waves are breaking. Closer examination reveals that these are painted with grey-brown streaks and spots. With these apparently casual brushstrokes Mesdag achieved astonishing effects: for example, he masterfully depicts how a pool on the beach reflects the sky.
— Panorama (1400x12'000cm; 325x2384pix, 111kb _ For an image the height of your computer screen, which will continually roll across to show the full 360º panorama, download the Panorama Mesdag screensaver, 1609 kb installer) _ This is a cylindrical painting, more than 14 meters high and 120 meters in circumference. The vista of the sea, the dunes, and Scheveningen village is the most famous masterwork of Mesdag. It is the oldest 19th century panorama in the world in its original site.
— /S#*>Le Départ du Bateau de Sauvetage (1890, 90x120cm; 306x500pix, 37kb _ /S#*>ZOOM to 918x1500, 108kb)
— /S#*>Fishing Boats Near the Coast (90x120cm; 378x500pix, 40kb _ /S#*>ZOOM to 1541x2041, 271kb)
— /S#*>The Departure of the Fleet, Scheveningen (1890, 139x179cm; 383x500pix, 49kb _ /S#*>ZOOM to 1200x1566, 236kb) _ The huge flat sailing vessels bobbing in the breakers, with white foam splashing from the waves, all beneath a bright blue sky lined with the whitest of clouds, are all very true to the Scheveningen fisher´s life of that day. The cold water and salt wind are almost palpable and the whole picture is a testimony to Mesdag´s principles of spontaneity and truth.
— Summer Sunset, Scheveningen (826x1028pix, 174kb)
Setting Sun (1887, 140x180cm; 617x801pix, 94kb; brownish) _same Setting Sun (568x750pix, 86kb; bluish)
— Preparations for Departure (71x55cm)
— On a Stormy Sea (50x41cm)
— Coucher de Soleil (1894, 50x60cm)
— /S#*>Fisherwomen Watching the Departure of the Fleet (60x50cm; 680x552pix, 44kb)
— Le Départ du Bateau de Sauvetage (1876, 97x157cm)
— Kalme Zee (1875, 48x78cm)
— The Bomschuit Prinses Sophie on the Beach, Scheveningen (1870, 80x100cm; 788x1000pix, 1068kb)
— Fishing Boats at Dusk (21x18cm)
— Fishing Boats Near the Coast (90x120cm)
— /S#*>16 images at Sotheby's
— /S#*>Shell Fishers on the Beach (1874, 27x42cm; 838x1321pix, 145kb) _ almost monochrome. Eliminating featureless expanses, it reduces beneficially to the detail shown below (14x19cm in the original, i.e. about one-quarter of its area).
Died on 23 February 1792: Sir
Joshua Reynolds, British painter specialized in Portraits,
born on 16 July 1723.
Reynolds, as a portrait painter and aesthetician, dominated English artistic life in the middle and late 18th century. Through his art and teaching, he attempted to lead British painting away from the indigenous anecdotal pictures of the early 18th century toward the formal rhetoric of the continental Grand Style. With the founding of the Royal Academy in 1768, Reynolds was elected its first president and knighted by King George III.
Reynolds attended the Plympton grammar school of which his father, a clergyman, was master. The young Reynolds became well read in the writings of classical antiquity and throughout his life was to be much interested in literature, counting many of the finest British authors of the 18th century among his closest friends. Reynolds early aspired to become an artist, and in 1740 he was apprenticed for four years in London to Thomas Hudson, a conventional portraitist and the student and son-in-law of Jonathan Richardson. In 1743 he returned to Devon and began painting at Plymouth naval portraits that reveal his inexperience. Returning to London for two years in 1744, he began to acquire a knowledge of the old masters and an independent style marked by bold brushwork and the use of impasto, a thick surface texture of paint, such as in his portrait of Captain the Honourable John Hamilton (1746).
Back in Devon in 1746, he painted a large group portrait of The Eliot Family (1747), which clearly indicates that he had studied the large-scale portrait of The Pembroke Family (1635) by Anthony Van Dyck, whose style of portrait painting influenced English portraiture throughout the 18th century. In 1749 Reynolds sailed with his friend Augustus Keppel to Minorca, one of the Balearic Islands off the Mediterranean coast of Spain. A fall from a horse detained him for five months and permanently scarred his lip - the scar being a prominent feature in his subsequent self-portraits. From Minorca he went to Rome, where he remained for two years, devoting himself to studying the great masterpieces of ancient Greco-Roman sculpture and of Italian painting. The impressions that he retained from this visit were to inspire his paintings and his Discourses for the rest of his life, for he felt that it was by allying painting with scholarship that he could best achieve his ambition of raising the status of his profession back in England. While returning home via Florence, Bologna, and Venice, he became absorbed by the compositions and color of the great Renaissance Venetian painters of the 16th century: Titian, Jacopo Tintoretto, and Paolo Veronese. The Venetian tradition's emphasis on color and the effect of light and shading had a lasting influence on Reynolds, and, although all his life he preached the need for young artists to study the sculptural definition of form characteristic of Florentine and Roman painters, his own works are redolent of the Venetian style.
In 1753 Reynolds settled in London, where he was to live for the rest of his life. His success was assured from the first, and by 1755 he was employing studio assistants to help him execute the numerous portrait commissions he received. The early London portraits have a vigor and naturalness about them that is perhaps best exemplified in a likeness of Honourable Augustus Keppel (1754). The pose is not original, being a reversal of the Apollo Belvedere, an ancient Roman copy of a mid-4th-century-BC Hellenistic statue Reynolds had seen in the Vatican. But the fact that the subject (who was a British naval officer) is shown striding along the seashore introduced a new kind of vigor into the tradition of English portraiture. In these first years in London, Reynolds' knowledge of Venetian painting is very apparent in such works as the portraits of Lord Cathcart (1753/54) and Lord Ludlow (1755). Of his domestic portraits, those of Nelly O'Brien (1762) and of Georgiana, Countess Spencer, and Her Daughter (1761) are especially notable for their tender charm and careful observation.
After 1760 Reynolds' style became increasingly classical and self-conscious. As he fell under the influence of the classical Baroque painters of the Bolognese school of the 17th century and the archaeological interest in Greco-Roman antiquity that was sweeping Europe at the time, the pose and clothes of his sitters took on a more rigidly antique pattern, in consequence losing much of the sympathy and understanding of his earlier works.
There were no public exhibitions of contemporary artists in London before 1760, when Reynolds helped found the Society of Artists and the first of many successful exhibitions was held. The patronage of George III was sought, and in 1768 the Royal Academy was founded. Although Reynolds' painting had found no favor at court, he was the obvious candidate for the presidency, and the king confirmed his election and knighted him. Reynolds guided the policy of the academy with such skill that the pattern he set has been followed with little variation ever since. The yearly Discourses that he delivered at the academy clearly mirrored many of his own thoughts and aspirations, as well as his own problems of line versus color and public and private portraiture, and gave advice to those beginning their artistic careers.
From 1769 nearly all of Reynolds' most important works appeared in the academy. In certain exhibitions he included historical pieces, such as Ugolino (1773), which were perhaps his least successful works. Many of his child studies are tender and even amusing, though now and again the sentiment tends to be excessive. Two of the most enchanting are Master Crewe as Henry VIII (1775-76) and Lady Caroline Scott as Winter (1778). His most ambitious portrait commission was the Family of the Duke of Marlborough (1777).
In 1781 Reynolds visited Flanders and Holland, where he studied the work
of the great Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens. This seems
to have affected his own style, for in the manner of Rubens' later works
the texture of his picture surface becomes far richer. This is particularly
true of his portrait of the Duchess of Devonshire and Her Daughter
(1786). Reynolds was never a mere society painter or flatterer. It has been
suggested that his deafness gave him a clearer insight into the character
of his sitters, the lack of one faculty sharpening the use of his eyes.
His vast learning allowed him to vary his poses and style so often that
the well-known remark of Thomas Gainsborough,
Damn him, how various he is! is entirely understandable. In 1782 Reynolds
had a paralytic stroke, and about the same time he was saddened by bickerings
within the Royal Academy. Seven years later his eyesight began to fail,
and he delivered his last Discourse at the academy in 1790.
Personality and criticism
Reynolds preferred the company of men of letters to that of his fellow artists and was friends with Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, and Oliver Goldsmith, among others. He never married, and his house was kept for him by his sister Frances.
Reynolds' state portraits of the king and queen were never considered a success, and he seldom painted for them; but the Prince of Wales patronized him extensively, and there were few distinguished families or individuals who did not sit for him. Nonetheless, some of his finest portraits are those of his intimate friends and of fashionable women of questionable reputation.
Unfortunately, Reynolds' technique was not always entirely sound, and many of his paintings have suffered as a result. After his visit to Italy, he tried to produce the effects of Tintoretto and Titian by using transparent glazes over a monochrome underpainting, but the pigment he used for his flesh tones was not permanent and even in his lifetime began to fade, causing the overpale faces of many surviving portraits. In the 1760s Reynolds began to use more extensively bitumen or coal substances added to pigments. This practice proved to be detrimental to the paint surface. Though a keen collector of old-master drawings, Reynolds himself was never a draftsman, and indeed few of his drawings have any merit whatsoever.
Reynolds' Discourses Delivered at the Royal Academy (1769-1791) is among the most important art criticism of the time. In it he outlined the essence of grandeur in art and suggested the means of achieving it through rigorous academic training and study of the old masters of art.
— Reynolds' students included Henry Raeburn, Hugh Barron, Thomas Beach, Carl Fredrik von Breda, William Doughty, John Hoppner, John Hamilton Mortimer, George Engleheart, James Northcote [22 Oct 1746 – 13 Jul 1831], William Owen, Archibald Robertson
–- Doctor Samuel Johnson
–- The Infant Hercules Strangling the Serpents sent by Hera
— The Child Baptist in the Wilderness (1776, 127x102cm; 800x630pix, 316kb _ ZOOM to 2280x1796pix, 2929kb, and admire the texture of the canvas )
–- Anne, Viscountess, afterwards Marchioness of Townsend (1780, 241x147cm; 864x706pix, 77kb _ .ZOOM to 1584x1412pix, 394kb _ .ZOOM+ to 3948x1152pix, 817kb)
–- The Rev. William Turner (123x96cm; 863x910pix, 59kb)
–- The Duchess of Argyll and Hamilton (49x31cm; 730x571pix, 29kb _ .ZOOM to main detail 730x943pix, 52kb) this is a painted sketch copy.
–- Miss Maria Elizabeth Boothby (1758, 77x64cm; 731x836pix, 42kb _ .ZOOM to main detail 863x756pix, 58kb)
Garrick between Tragedy and Comedy (1761)
Master Hare (1788, 77x64cm; 1033x842pix) _ In 1788, when Reynolds was at the summit of his reputation, he painted this portrait for one of his aunts, Anna Maria Lady Jones. The sitter was Francis George Hare, the nephew or adopted son of Lady Jones. Two years after it was painted this picture was already famous.
Captain Robert Orme (1756, 240x147cm) _ Joshua Reynolds, third son and seventh child of the Reverend Samuel Reynolds, was apprenticed at seventeen in London to the portrait painter Thomas Hudson, a Devonshire man like himself. Despite the uninspired example of Hudson, Reynolds succeeded in his ambition to become no 'ordinary' craftsman-painter: he established himself as a fashionable portrait painter, became friends with the most eminent men of letters in England, first president of the newly formed Royal Academy in 1768, and was knighted in 1769. Although he did not achieve greatness as a 'history painter', he invested his innumerable portraits of the privileged men and women of English society with the wit, poetic resonance and nobility of heroic narrative. His fifteen Discourses on Art, delivered at the Academy between 1769 and 1790, remain the most cogent and most moving tribute in English to the ideals of Western art grounded in the Italian Renaissance. We now tend to prefer the fresher brush of his rival Gainsborough to Reynolds's contrivances. A restless and indiscriminate experimenter with media and pigments, imitating the surface effects of Old Master paintings without an understanding of their methods, he saw his pictures fade, flake and crack, so that portraits 'died' before their sitters. Even his contemporaries protested at his technical shortcomings. Yet the more we look at Reynolds, in the prodigious variety which Gainsborough rightly envied, the more we see that he indeed achieved what he defined as 'that one great idea, which gives to painting its true dignity...of speaking to the heart'. More than any English painter before him, in the 'great design' of 'captivating the imagination', Reynolds participated in 'that friendly intercourse which ought to exist among Artists, of receiving from the dead and giving to the living, and perhaps to those who are yet unborn' (Discourse Twelve).
Captain Robert Orme is one of the great romantic military portraits, painted soon after Reynolds established his London practice. It shows an officer of the Coldstream Guards with a letter in his hand, ready to mount his horse with all that fire mixed with rage that war and the love of his country can give. Robert Orme (1725-90), served in America as aide-de-camp to General Braddock. When Braddock was killed in 1755 in an ambush by the French, Orme returned to England and resigned from the army. Some time in 1756 he sat for Reynolds. Orme never purchased the portrait from the artist, in whose studio it attracted much notice 'by its boldness and singularity'. The composition may be freely adapted from drawings of Italian frescoes and Roman sculpture brought back by Reynolds from his journey to Italy in 1750-1752; it may also allude to a portrait of Charles I by Van Dyck. But the effect is splendidly dramatic and immediate: the thunderous sky and extravagant lighting, Orme's windswept hair, the highlighted despatches in his hand, his foaming steed, the red coat pushed open by the ready sword all suggest a heroic and transient moment in the life of the young officer.
Lady Cockburn and her Three Eldest Sons and a parrot (1773, 142x113cm) _ In his seventh Discourse on Art delivered at the Royal Academy in 1776, Reynolds proclaimed: He...who in his practice of portrait-painting wishes to dignify his subject, which we will suppose to be a lady, will not paint her in the modern dress, the familiarity of which alone is sufficient to destroy all dignity... he dresses his figure something with the general air of the antique for the sake of dignity, and preserves something of the modern for the sake of likeness. In his fourth Discourse of 1771 he had recommended to the 'historical Painter' never to debase his conceptions with minute attention to the discriminations of Drapery...With him, the clothing is neither woolen, nor linen, nor silk, satin, or velvet: it is drapery; it is nothing more. Reynolds was not alone in worrying about the way portraits began to look ridiculous as fashions changed. The dress of ancient Greeks and Romans belonged to that period in European history which, educated people then thought, set civilized standards for all time; it was also believed to be closer to nature than modern dress especially the 'straight lacing of English ladies', 'destructive...to health and long life'. But not all sitters wished to be depicted in mythical charades, and the results could sometimes be even more risible than an outmoded bodice - as when Lady Sarah Bunbury, who 'liked eating beefsteaks and playing cricket' was painted by Reynolds sacrificing to the Three Graces.
Lady Cockburn's portrait demonstrates the half-way mode most successfully adopted by the artist, and his pleasure in it is reflected by his signing it on the hem of her robe - a wonderfully majestic gold 'drapery'. According to the newly fashionable exaltation of maternity, Augusta Anne, Sir James Cockburn's second wife, is posed with her three children (although separate sittings are recorded for the elder boys). James, the cherub kneeling on the left, born in 1771, became a general; George, born in 1772 and clambering around his mother's neck, grew up to be the admiral whose ship conveyed Napoleon to exile on Saint Helena; the baby, William, born that June, entered the Church and became Dean of York. The commission must have reminded Reynolds of the traditional allegorical image of Charity as a woman with three children [e.g. del Sarto's bigger Charity and smaller Charity]; he probably knew Van Dyck's painting or the famous engraving after it, for his composition resembles it in many details. Where Van Dyck's Charity gazes up to Heaven, however, Lady Cockburn turns her profile to us and looks lovingly at her eldest son. Despite George's mischievous address to the viewer probably to be imagined as his Papa the composition echoes Michelangelo's grand and severe sibyls on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The color accent of the brilliant macaw, a favourite pet in Reynolds's household recorded as having perched on the hand of Dr Johnson, was an afterthought, recalling Rubens's use of a similar device. So well did Reynolds succeed in lending Lady Cockbum 'the general air of the antique', however, that when the painting was etched for publication, and Sir James objected to his wife's name being exposed in public, the print was entitled Cornelia and her Children after the Roman matron who boasted that her children were her only jewels.
Lady Delmé and her Children (1780, 239x147cm) _ English portrait painting after 1750 moved in the direction of naturalness. Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough - exact contemporaries - were the two greatest English portrait painters of the eighteenth century, but their pictures were of quite different types. Reynolds was a temperamental painter who loved to yield to the excitement of actual painting. For all that, he was acutely concerned over all questions of technique, and throughout his life he studied the pictures of the masters, especially of Rembrandt and Rubens, in an effort to penetrate their secret. In the Baroque manner he painted his figures in the action and attitude best fitted to the sitter's character. When his sitters were women, he approached the sensuousness of Rubens.
Colonel George K. H. Coussmaker, Grenadier Guards (1782, 238x145cm) _ Reynolds was the first president of the Royal Academy and the author of 15 discourses on painting, which are classics of the theory of art. In this dismounted equestrian portrait, Reynolds presents Colonel Coussmaker in a pose of casual but studied negligence, the line of his body repeated in the curving neck of the horse. The summer before Reynolds painted the portrait, he traveled to Holland and Flanders and profited by his observation of Rubens's works, especially in the creation of a free and painterly surface treatment.
— Mrs. Musters as Hebe (1782, 239x145cm; 640x397pix, 76kb) _ .detail head (702x876pix, 26kb) _ Wind animates this portrait, adding to its drama and to the windswept allure of the famously beautiful Mrs Musters. She is portrayed in the guise of Hebe, the classical goddess of youth, and a handmaiden of the gods. She stands in the open air, possibly on Mount Olympus, feeding Jupiter’s eagle with nectar from her jug. Dark clouds gather above her, and soft gusts of wind catch up her draperies and loosen her hair.
— The Child Samuel (1776) _ “During the time young Samuel was minister to the LORD under Eli, a revelation of the LORD was uncommon and vision infrequent. One day Eli was asleep in his usual place. His eyes had lately grown so weak that he could not see. The lamp of God was not yet extinguished, and Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was. The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.” Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.” “I did not call you,” Eli said. “Go back to sleep.” So he went back to sleep. Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. “Here I am,” he said. “You called me.” But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.” At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet. The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So Eli said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’ ” When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel ch.3)
— Thomas Mills (600x520pix _ ZOOM to 1400x1213pix)
— General John Burgoyne (1766, 127x101cm)
— George Clive and his Family with an Indian Nanny (1766, 140x171cm) George Clive [1720-1779]
— Brown Boy
— The Actress Kitty Fischer as Danae (1761; 600x732pix)
— 51 images at the Athenaeum
Born on 23 February 1863: Franz
von Stuck, German Symbolist
painter, sculptor, engraver and architect. Fame stuck to von Stuck because
of a Sin which followed his Sensuality. He died on 30
— Von Stuck was born in Bavaria, and received his artistic training at the Munich Academy. He first made a name with his illustration for Fliegende Blätter, to which Mihály von Munkácsy [1844-1900] also contributed, and vignette designs for programs and book decoration. He did not devote himself to painting until after 1889, the year in which he achieved a marked success with his first picture, The Warder of Paradise. His style in painting is based on a thorough mastery of design, and is sculptural rather than pictorial. His favorite subjects are of mythological and allegorical character, but in his treatment of time-worn motifs he is altogether unconventional. Among his paintings the best known are Sin and War, The Sphinx, The Crucifixion, The Rivals, Paradise Lost, Oedipus, Temptation, and Lucifer. Though Stuck was one of the leaders of the Munich Sezession, he enjoyed an appointment of professor at the academy.
From 1878 to 1885 he studied at the School of Plastic Arts in Munich, then at the the Munich Academy. He at first earned his living by illustrating various magazines. In 1892 was one of the founders of the Munich Sezession. His Symbolist period is of this decade. In 1895 he began teaching at the Munich Academy, where his students included Kandinsky, Klee, and Albers, whose subsequent careers enhanced von Stuck's fame. Designed and built the Villa Stuck. Von Stuck has suffered from unfair comparison with Böcklin and been described as superficial in his Symbolist vein. In fact, his many nudes, with their torrid sensuality and a linear style combining decorative and erotic elements, are direct precursors of Jugendstil.
— His students included also E. Martin Hennings
— Self-Portrait (1899; 83kb)
Franz and Mary Stuck as a God and Goddess (1900; 95kb)
— Orpheus and the Animals (600x520pix _ ZOOM to 1400x1212pix, 493kb)
— Tilla Durieux as Circe (600x680pix, 183kb)
— Frühling (1912; 524x506pix, 65kb)
Sensuality (1891; 700x496pix, 57kb) _ Franz von Stuck achieved the greatest success of his career with the painting Sin which was hailed as a work of genius at the 1893 exhibition of the Munich Secession. Rows of seats had to be placed in front of the painting for the crowds of fascinated viewers. Sin was a variant of the yet more suggestive Sensuality which Stuck had painted four years previously. So great was the demand for these pictures that Stuck painted at least eighteen versions of the subject of a woman entwined with a snake under the titles of Sin, Sensuality and Vice.
The Murderer (1891, 47x46cm; 570x550pix; 55kb) _ Inspired by Murderer pursued by Furies, of Böcklin [1827-1901], but with an even greater sense of excitement and drama, in 1891 Stuck painted his first version of the despair and remorse which pursue a criminal after his deed. The ancient Furies, the goddesses of vengeance, hide behind a rock as they lie in wait for the murderer who has just killed his victim. The sight of these ugly creatures is a foretaste of the torments awaiting the murderer. The figure of the murderer is derived from the etching by Klinger [1857-1920], Pursuit, in which a man in a similar pose runs away on a narrow path. _ See also The Murderer on the Lane (1919) by Edvard Munch [12 Dec 1863 — 23 Jan 1944], and Flight and Pursuit by Rimmer.
Sin (1893, 88x53cm; 850x501pix, 66kb) _ Stuck exhibited Sin at the Secessionist Exhibition in Munich in 1893. It was bought by the Neue Pinakothek musuem. Stuck's Sin brought crowds flocking to the Neue Pinakothek, where it was installed immediately after it had been bought. In Das Jahr der schönen Täuschungen, the doctor and poet Hans Carossa described the deep impression that this famous work made on the viewer: 'The fame of the painting drove us through the galleries; we stopped nowhere and opened our eyes for the first time when we were finally standing opposite it. It was displayed on a special easel in its broad, monumental gold frame, and now all three of us stared at the night of hair and snake which did not allow too much of the pale, female body to be seen. The shadowed face with the bluish-white of the dark eyes was less important to me at first than the iron sheen of the nestling snake, its evil, beautifully designed head and the dull chequered pattern on its back, over which a delicate blue line ran like a seam. There are works of art that strengthen our sense of community, and there are others that seduce us into isolation. Stuck's painting belonged to the latter group.' There are several versions of this painting. The painting shows Eve, no longer hesitating between good and evil, she has chosen evil and has become one with the snake, shown wrapped round her neck.
About a year after Stuck's Sin, Edvard Munch produced Madonna (1895; 800x561pix, 103kb) as part of his “Frieze of Life” series. It has the same ambivalent mixing of Christian iconography with sensual content, the same combination of eros and thanatos, love and death, pain and pleasure: 'Your face encompasses the whole of the earth. Your lips, as red as ripening fruit, gently part as if in pain. It is the smile of a corpse. Now the hand of death touches life. The chain is forged that links the thousand families that are dead to the thousand generations to come.' Stuck turned Sin into an icon and included it in his artist's altar displayed at the Villa Stuck.
The Kiss of the Sphinx (1895, 160x149cm) _ This painting is grand melodrama painted in a blaze of fiery red. Locked in a passionate kiss, the sphinx presses her lips against the man's like a vampire, as if to suck the life out of him. It was the poem by Heinrich Heine [13 Dec 1797 – 17 Feb 1856] in the foreword to his Buch der Lieder (3rd edition, 1839) that inspired Stuck to paint this triumph of woman over man.
What a psychologically exhausting treatment of the subject this is! There lies the sphinx, this time a bewitchingly beautifuly woman, on a low slab of rock. With her lion's claws she clasps the body of the unfortunate, who has sunk to his knees, while her lips press against his. The classical myth is given depth by investing it with the universality of a modern symbol. We hear the old song about man and woman, about man's powerlessness when faced with a demonic woman, about physical strength against the psychical. As this body of a young man writhes in the claws of the sphinx, impotent, unresisting, as lips press against lips there in passionate desire the moment of greatest pleasure also the moment of death all of this is portrayed with a dramatic force which truly moves one to the depths of one's being and is incomparably poignant. This painting, like Sin, caused a sensation in Munich. Reproductions of it were removed from the windows of art galleries on the orders of the police. The painting is a universal symbol of the passion that leads to downfall.
Boy Bacchus Riding on a Panther (1901; 161kb)
The Guardian of Paradise (1889, 250x167cm; 126kb)
The Wild Hunt (1899, 53x84cm; 800x555pix, 109kb)
— Frau Feez (1900, 153kb)
— Wounded Amazon (1904, 117kb)
— Susanna Bathing (1904, 119kb)
— Salome (1906, 121kb)
— Daughter Mary (1910, 130kb)
— Spring (1912, 126kb)
— Sisyphus (1920; 750x650pix, 90kb)